Blue Square Bet South
Dover Athletic 1 Boreham Wood 0
by John Mead
Adam Birchall’s 87th minute winner left Wood feeling hard done by in a game that they should have got something out of. It was Birchall’s 41st goal of the Season and it needed a bit of magic from by far the most talented striker in the League to salvage the points.
Ian Allinson made a number of changes with Elvijs Putnins returning between the sticks after Wes Foderingham’s Loan spell ended. Michael Kamara got the nod ahead of Luke Garrard, whilst Ola Sogbanmu and Sam Hurrell were included after the impact they made as Substitutes against Basingstoke Town a week earlier.
The first half was a patchy affair. Putnins made a brilliant save to deny Birchall from eight yards out, with the Wood shot stopper in commanding form throughout. Birchall again went close when running central he found space to fire a curling drive that was inches high.
As the half drew to a close on a cold and rainy afternoon Wood created their first chances. Elliott Godfrey, playing on the right, released David Bryant who ran clear only to sky his shot. Then a right sided corner delivered by Mario Noto caused confusion between ‘keeper Ross Flitney and Lewwis Spence, resulting in Flitney spilling the ball, which Bryant almost capitalised from.
At half time the players were told to “relax and not panic” by Ian Allinson and they duly went on to dominate the majority of the second half. Daniel Brathwaite was in exemplary form against his former Club, part of a solid back four which frustrated the Kent side. Godfrey threaded his way past three defenders into the penalty area feeding Bryant who was thwarted by an important challenge by Matt Fish. Mike Cestor then made his way to the edge of the penalty area playing a one two with Sogbanmu before shooting weakly at Flitney.
Gareth Risbridger had a commanding afternoon in the middle of the park and made a superb challenge to deny the dangerous Birchall, before Kamara slid in on the prolific striker to maintain parity on the edge of the area. Noto, who worked tirelessly all afternoon, fired over from distance, before Birchall was again denied by the impressive Putnins.
The combination of Godfrey and Bryant almost paid dividends. Godfey’s low drive was parried by Flitney as far as Bryant who shot wide of the post. Wood sensed victory and went on the all out attack, which proved to be their undoing. Sam Hurrell should have done better with his cross from the left which was intercepted and immediately dispatched up field. Birchall was duly fed and found space to run at goal. He wrong footed Brathwaite before holding his nerve to sell Putnins a dummy and round the ‘keeper. It was a brilliantly taken goal! Greg Morgan was introduced with Wood switching to a 3 – 4 – 3 formation and it created a frenetic last few minutes with Wood searching for the equaliser.
Noto’s clearance found Godfrey whose flicked header was met by Bryant on the right whose shot ran just wide across goal. The home side were forced to hang on to their points in the closing stages. Godfrey’s corner flashed dangerously across goal, before Noto’s free kick was met by a flicked back header from Godfrey that was tipped to safety by Flitney.
It was a gallant effort by Wood which left Ian Allinson, “Very frustrated as we deserved something from the game. We maybe should have closed things out for a point at the end, yet we continued to search for the winner which led to Dover Athletic opening us up. We maybe could have passed the ball a little better and had we taken our chances we would have been celebrating tonight. On the positive side we have come to a top seven side and taken the game to them, showing that we fear no one.”
Wood are currently seventeenth in the table and six points clear of the drop zone, should the ten point deduction handed to St. Albans City still stand after the appeal hearing on 1 April.
Next up is another tough test as second placed Farnborough visit Meadow Park this coming Tuesday.
Team: Putnins, Kamara (Sub – Morgan 89 mins.), Brathwaite, Cestor, Wilkinson, Noto, Godfrey, Risbridger, Bryant, Sogbanmu, Hurrell.
Subs (Not used): Garrard, Maledon, Nicolau, Moran.
Bookings: Noto, Cestor, Wilkinson, Bryant.
Goal: Dover Athletic: Birchall 87.
Man of the Match: Daniel Brathwaite.